03 Apr 2018

Has Hungarian society lost its sense of humor?

In the 1990s, all serious Hungarian newspapers employed a political satirist, but today the profession is dying. Politicians may not be the only ones who have problems with political satire.

Ivett Körösi
Ivett Körösi Nepszava, Hungary
Source: Nepszava
Has Hungarian society lost its sense of humor?

 - NewsMavens
Etta Hulme, a political cartoonist in Fort Worth, Texas, is seated at her drawing board. Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

“I understand jokes but I do not like them” goes the Hungarian saying, which typically refers to those in power. There might be some truth in it, because it’s a challenge to find caricatures that poke fun of the ruling elite in pro-government newspapers and websites. 

Independent media outlets are expected to be a prominent platform for political satire, but it seems that satire is slowly disappearing from the press.

While there are financial reasons behind it, several artists say people don't appreciate satire anymore. It's as if Hungarian society has lost its sense of humor.

“People get offended more easily than they did 15-20 years ago” -- said Zoltan Oszi, a caricaturist.

Perhaps the somber attitude is due to the increasingly violent and divisive rhetoric of the ruling elite. The message: those who do not stand with us are either the enemy or not true Hungarians. And apparently, a large part of the population has come to accept this humorless creed.


Details from the story:

  • There are only three or four caricaturists in Hungary who do daily political satires and make a living from it.
  • Marabu, one of the most acclaimed caricaturists in Hungary, believes there is a generational element behind the decline of caricatures: they are not as easy to understand as GIFs and memes.
  • Zoltan Nemes, a caricaturist, told Nepszava that although opposition newspapers can publish drawings that are critical of the authorities, satirists must be careful not to offend the publication's investors.
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